Day 1: Amphorae and Inscriptions


After a full day of rest on Sunday, Bliss and I woke up fresh and ready to go for a long day at Coriglia. Expecting sunlight and hot temperatures, we dressed lightly, put on our sun hats, and applied sun screen—a lot of it.

The goal for the day in my group’s trench, C Central, was to articulate the opposite side of the eastern wall of the drainage channel which I mentioned last week. After one week (last week) of tracing the charcoal to see what time period the layer was from, the goal had dramatically changed, especially due to the lack of evidence of a trace of burnt material. Contrary to the smaller tools used last week, we utilized a small pick—which, contrary to its name’s implication, is actually quite large—named “Old Hick” to break down the dirt covering the wall.

During the straightening of the wall, the first exciting find in my group’s trench was the base of a late-Roman amphora. After hours of cleaning the soil last week, it was very refreshing to uncover an ancient artifact that our group eventually bragged about to the other professors and students.

The biggest find of the day, and perhaps the summer, was a half intact amphora that appeared to have stored wine. From the top of the body, the shape looked like this: medium width, small width, large width, small width. Two handles extended in each direction and curved like an ellipse. Most remarkably, we found both the arms AND the body.

After we saw how intact of a find this amphora would be, we took major precautions to make sure we did not break any piece. Using dental tools made of wood and leaf trowels (the metal tools would scar the amphora shell), we picked at the dirt that seemed to surround the amphora for literally hours before we could finally trace the outline. The most difficult aspect of the excavation was the fact that we did not know where the edges cut off. If we had known the outline, it would have been simple to dig around with larger tools. However, since we did not know it, we had to be extremely cautious, making sure not to harm and accidentally dig into the over 2000 year old jug.

Another complication was the wall that we had initially intended to straighten. Because the amphora was so large, it dug into the lower side of the wall and taking out the artifact would obstruct the our goal. We eventually considered the artifact too important, and created a small crater in the wall. It wasn’t the optimal condition, but it was inevitable.

During the process of uncovering these two artifacts, we also discovered an incredible amount of tesserae, pan tiles, pottery, and fresco.

As Bliss will further expound upon, we, after a long day digging, discussed with Professor George about Etruscan inscription which we will sort and work with tomorrow evening. We have to give thanks to Professor George for this extra opportunity that he has allowed us to participate in. We are truly excited for tomorrow!



Today was a rather normal day—we continued our regular work dismantling 658 and finding new walls. However, there was one surprise: after the dig ended, Professor George took Joonho and me to show us his work on Etruscan inscriptions and invited us to begin collaboration with him tomorrow!

We woke up this morning, well rested after a full weekend to recuperate, and commenced a full day of work. Since it was dry over the weekend, we did not need to un-tarp and began digging immediately. It was a quite sunny day, and so I felt the true effects of the Umbrian sun for the first time—ironically, on the very same day I lost my hat. Luckily, I did not burn too much.

All morning and afternoon was spent continuing to remove locus 658. Finally, I perfected (more or less) my picking technique and at last felt somewhat effective—in fact, my shoveling improved as well. We continued to expose the new wall, although it seemed to dip and was more evasive than expected. If anything, however, today was remarkable for the sheer amount of dirt and rubble we cleared from the locus. After a quick lunch in Monterubiaglio, the nearest town to the site, we continued the same work in the afternoon. The only notable find was a floor made of cocciopesto, a Roman waterproof conglomerate-type material, behind the wall—seeming to support my hypothesis that a door or some sort of gateway lies nearby.

After the dig, instead of immediately rushing to the shower and wi-fi as usual, Joonho and I accompanied Professor George to orient ourselves with his work on Etruscan inscriptions. On the way over he outlined a few details, or at least theories about the language—that it is likely of Anatolian origin, written right-to-left in a form of the Greek alphabet, and has three stages of development (we’ll be looking at Archaic inscriptions). Inside the lab, he showed us the main types of inscriptions he has found: sigla (geometric etchings), words, individual letters, and numbers. Over the next few days we will be sorting objects into these categories and working from there. Tonight, in preparation for this work, Joonho and I will be learning the Etruscan alphabet, which shouldn’t be too hard because of its similarity to Greek.

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